4 Ways Restaurants Can Use Real-Time Communication To Enhance The Customer Experience

Real-time communication is quickly becoming a standard for businesses across the board.

Empowering both customers and businesses to communicate effectively, it’s a growing preference that saves valuable time. 

For restaurants, in particular, the benefits of communicating in real time are substantial. They include; better service, increased customer satisfaction, higher online ratings, enhanced in-dining operations, and other qualities that contribute to overall restaurant success. 

So how can one utilize real-time communication to reap these benefits?

Here, we unravel 4 strategic ways restaurants can use real-time communication to enhance the customer experience. 

1) Make Quick Adjustments To Food and Service

Real-time messaging is a great opportunity to improve food and service. Especially when a customer is in the restaurant.

Through in-the-moment conversations you can identify an employee providing poor service, food prepared incorrectly, or an item not as described, so you can recover the experience in the moment and deter future dissatisfaction. 

To provide a timely example of this, Sodexo at Federal Reserve Bank leveraged Loop’s real-time messaging and feedback capabilities to make operational changes and improvements to their menu and offerings. During their use of the platform, they were made aware when supplies such as cutlery and condiments ran out. This enabled them to take immediate action and continue to enhance the experience.

Authors note: If you’re looking to start collecting feedback in the moment, prompt customers while they’re dining with marketing materials like tent cards, pull-up posters, or QR codes on receipts. You can even go as far as making it a community effort, by encouraging your servers and hostesses to mention it throughout the customer journey.  

2) Encourage Employee Engagement and Performance

When you acknowledge an employee’s achievement or draw attention to an employee mishap in real time, your comment is more likely to resonate. Imagine for a moment, telling your chef that a meal was prepared incorrectly last week. It’s very unlikely that this feedback will be effective, as the chef may have forgotten what they cooked or how the meal was prepared. The problem then becomes difficult to correct and deter for future customers. 

With real-time insight, however, you can encourage greater performance and engage employees throughout the process. If a customer writes in that their soup is too salty, you can immediately communicate with your chef to see if it was a preparation issue or something that can be modified for that menu item moving forward.

In addition, consistent monitoring of real-time communication also enables you to see which employees are overperforming, underperforming, who is helpful, who is positive and which employees are representing your brand well. This can assist in effective scheduling, recognition for team meetings and 1:1’s.

A great example of a tool that compliments real-time messaging capabilities to engage employees is the Loop Experience Scoreboard. With it, you can select a customized interface for your back-of-house employees. Whenever a customer provides a rating of their experience, employees working can see it on the scoreboard in real-time. This engages employees with the status of their service but also can elicit friendly competition. Further, management can use ratings (along with their own detailed analytics) to motivate employees at the start of shift meetings.  Freshslice uses the Scoreboard to show the customers satisfaction and overall sentiment. 

3) Strengthen Customer Relationships

Time to respond has become a huge differentiator for businesses. In fact, “according to Forrester Research, 77% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do.” In addition, a separate report stated more than “79% of customers prefer real-time [messaging] because it offers instant responses and is the easiest and effective way of communicating”.

If a business takes an exaggerated period of time to respond to a customer, relationships can get strained. Guests dining can get frustrated that they’re not being heard and feel of less value – which directly impacts loyalty. Set real-time communication standards, such as a 5 minute maximum response time, using the customer’s name in messaging, acknowledging specific concerns, and so on. By taking these steps to enhance the relationship with the customer, real-time messaging becomes a tool to build lasting loyalty with customers that feel valued and heard.

Real-Time Messaging Tip: If your customer is still on the property and if appropriate, direct the conversation offline with an in-person conversation. This humanizes the business and can encourage a stronger connection between the customer and the establishment. Further, you can ask more questions to understand the experience as a whole.

4) Measure For A More Sustainable Future

Monitored over a period of time, real-time communication can provide you with helpful insight for the future.

By measuring communication over time, you can understand what times of day are most inundated with requests, what channels are most popular, which employees are the most helpful, the average time to respond and more. These insights breed strategic thinking and can help you modify your restaurant’s operations for the future.

While you are able to do this manually on your own, we highly suggest opting for an automated solution that can streamline data collection from all points of communication, and save you valuable time.

Not to mention, with a sophisticated solution you can create your own custom dashboards, so all the data you need is readily available. Get a visual of service trends or food that outperforms on your menu. Consistently adjust and measure to ensure customer expectations are met. With the changes you make from data and continuous feedback, you’ll elicit a more positive response from your guests and encourage growth for your business.

Let’s take a last look at our aforementioned example with Sodexo at Federal Reserve Bank who selected Loop as their automated experience solution. Operating three locations; 2 in New York and 1 in New Jersey, they were able to gain insight into the customer experience at each location. From next to the cash register, to outside a pop-up restaurant, Sodexo was able to gather insights into what is working and what needs improvement, experimenting with different locations and survey questions while all of their reporting and conversations remain in one dedicated platform. 

Final Thoughts

For restaurants, time to respond has become imperative to meet customer expectations and also to improve efficiency at the back of house. 

Using a solution like Loop ensures that real-time communication is met with ease. All customer conversations are consolidated into a single platform and the invaluable insights gathered pertain to what you want to see –  so you can continue to focus on the strategic growth of your restaurant. 

Want to learn more about real-time communication and how you can incorporate it into your restaurant’s operations? Connect with a Benbria representative today. 

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